Officials confirm 10 cases of severe, unexplained hepatitis in Canadian children

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), ten children in Canada suffered from serious and mysterious cases of hepatitis during a recent five-month period, following an investigation into an unexplained inflammation of the liver in children.

The “severe acute hepatitis” cases were not from the usual viruses – such as hepatitis A, B, C and E – or any other obvious cause, PHAC said in a statement Friday.

All of the children were hospitalized and two required liver transplants, the statement said. Three of the cases were in Alberta, two in Manitoba, four in Ontario and one in Quebec.

The children were all between one and 13 years old and fell ill between November 3, 2021 and April 2, the agency said.

Earlier this month, PHAC said it was investigating more than a dozen possible cases of serious liver disease of unknown origin in children in Canada, amid a mysterious hepatitis outbreak that reached nearly 200 young people around the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) is also investigating.

Some researchers have singled out COVID-19 and adenovirus — a family of viruses that typically cause cold-like or flu-like illnesses — as possible suspects.

PHAC says its investigation is very broad and includes all children with liver inflammation of uncertain cause.

The agency says it is working with all provinces and territories to identify possible cases by asking them to search for patients dating back to October last year, which matches the timeline of the international investigation of the WHO.

PHAC urges parents to contact health care providers if they notice symptoms of hepatitis in their children, including yellowing of the skin and eyes, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, urinating dark, loss of appetite, fever and fatigue.